So, you want to find out more about your house in Topeka. This blog will tell you about one of the resources to search in order to find out more about the history of your property and who has owned it through the years. Come with me on a field trip downtown to the Shawnee County Register of Deeds Office.
On Monday, July 26, 2010, I decided to take a field trip down to the Register of Deeds Office to find out more about how to research property transactions for Shawnee County property.
The record of property deeds (primarily the land transaction, not the building) is kept by the office of the Register of Deeds on the county level. The information is received from surveyors and title companies when the land changes hands. The records are kept current as new transaction information is received by the office. The information is unique, detailed and accurate. The books are alphabetically arranged by the first letter of the last name of Grantor (seller) and Grantee (buyer) and then added to chronologically as transaction information is received by the office. Although the paper deed books listing the transactions are maintained and up to date, the office has the books prior to 1988 on microfilm and from 1988-present is also available via a computer database in their office. The office also retains records of subdivision and neighborhood plats and designs. This resource is public record and the information is invaluable in tracing ownership of land.
The thing to remember about this search is that it traces the land deed and not the buildings on the land. To research a property, you do need to have a general target of who owns the property now, and when it might have changed hands. Once you know that information, the real investigation begins by tracking back to when the person they bought the property from purchased the property and who the grantor was in that purchase. Then you keep going back in time.
To find out more information about the Shawnee County Register of Deeds Office, including hours, location and copying costs, please go to their website: http://www.snco.us/rd/
(photo credit: C. Rouse, Shawnee County Register of Deeds, Topeka, KS, 2010)